Jonathan Park: The How-do-I-refute-ID-without-offending Adventure Begins

I'm teaching high school summer school right now. The kids aren't there because they have to be, they are there because they want to be. This program I'm in is nice because I can pretty much talk about whatever I want. I got an interesting question about evolution, so we discussed it for a while. It wasn't long before I spotted the religious student. He gave himself away when he tried to debunk all of science because of our lack of total understanding of the beginnings of the universe. It seems like there is always one. He was clearly educated in the ways of ID arguments, which I politely disagreed with and moved on.

The sad thing is, he's quite intelligent, kind, mature, and interested in science. He's even good at it as long as it isn't evolution. Unfortunately, he has a very distorted view of science. I've gotten the whole spiel about how both Christian and non-christian scientists agree with ID. I've gotten several ID type questions from him, but I usually side-step them so as not to derail the whole class.

Now to the reason I wrote this post. Today, he gave me a CD with a recording of "Jonathan Park: The Adventure Begins." He went on and on about how AWESOME it is and how much he loves it and how exciting it is and how he has more CD's he'd be happy to lend me and he's just sure I'll love it. He told me that this CD, "gives SOME examples of scientific observations that are valid findings from well respected non-christian and christian scientists." He practically begged me to listen to the WHOLE thing. I smiled, thanked him and felt a knot in my stomach. I suspected what it was and was correct.

Here's a summary from Amazon: "The Jonathan Park Radio Drama is a unique audio series that became an instant hit on Christian radio with the release of the show’s first twelve episodes. Each fast-paced, half-hour episode gives families an example of how their Christian worldview plays itself out in everyday life. Though the stories are fictitious, the creation data presented in each broadcast is based on real research gathered from creation scientists worldwide, and the settings for the stories are based on actual geographic locations. Featured on more than 750 radio outlets around the world, Jonathan Park presents creation science in an engaging story format that the whole family can enjoy."

Ohhhhhh Noooooooooooo!

It's not so bad if a student proposes one argument at a time, but a whole CD worth at once? Ugh.

So here's where I reach out the the TA community. Has anyone listened to this? I tried, but it's just awful. I actually got angry at the lies they are sowing. I mean, I knew they did this, but to actually experience it was like a punch in the throat by the right-hook of my childhood Jesus brainwashing. I should probably finish it, just to truly understand where this kid is coming from.

If this were just some guy off the street I'd take notes and tear each error apart as thoroughly as possible. As it stands, I'm not sure what to do because talking about these things with students is always quite risky, especially as a science teacher. I don't want to blast the kid, it's not his fault he's been lied to his whole life. I'd like to gently nudge him toward actual science, but all the anti-ID stuff I find is quite aggressive and would not be taken well.

I'd like to refer him to a webpage, video, or TV program that refutes ID point by point, but is documentary-like, has no swear words, and never mentions atheism. If any of those isn't met, I doubt it'll do any good whatsoever. Does this exist? If so, I would LOVE to have it in my back pocket...I'm sure this isn't the last (it's not the first) time I'll run into this.

Views: 294

Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 8, 2009 at 4:27pm
I'm featuring this blog in the hope it will reach a higher number of people who might be able to help. I'm also going to link it on all my networking sites.
Comment by AdamJTP on July 8, 2009 at 5:05pm
As a teacher (especially a science teacher) you shouldn't be teaching facts. You should be teaching methodology (okay "should" is a loaded word - bear with me!)

It's the give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Give a man a fishing rod... thing.

I wouldn't contradict a single thing the child says. I would ask questions and get them to ask questions.

"Should we always believe what we hear?"
"Have humans always been correct in their theories in the past?"
"Is that the only explanation?"
"Are there any other possibilities?"
"How could we find out if there are other explanations?"
"What experiments or data could we get to test these for ourselves?"

Teach the child not to accept ANYONE'S word (even a science teacher's) without engaging their brain themselves.

Most children aren't told that Santa doesn't exist - they work it out for themselves. (Or do they? I have no evidence for this statement beyond my own children).

Show this child the beauty of science is how easy it is to investigate the world for themselves - to discover truth for themselves.

Okay - you probably can't perform radiocarbon dating, but I bet you can find a tree stump. Maybe even a tree stump with different thickness of rings. I bet you can find weather records for those years. Then get them to question the weather records (ask people if they remember certain years being good/bad).

...but don't teach the child facts. We want the children to write our future science - not read and regurgitate it.
Comment by Gaytor on July 8, 2009 at 5:23pm
"We do not have empirical, observation-based experience with supernatural causes so supernatural causes cannot serve as explanations in science." - Casey Luskin from his own site.

ID does not even claim to support Christianity. Christians claim it, but the reality is that life is older than 6000 years. The Bible lays out an estimated 4000 years of human existence to Jesus. (Biblical Scholars estimates.) In order for ID to be correct, you have to break the lineage from Adam to Moses, to David to Jesus (but wait, how did Joseph and Jesus blood relate?... another story) Prophecy would have to be broken to tie the two belief systems together. It's a bastardisation of the religion and a first commandment violation to accept any other Gods other than Yaweh (wait, how does John 3.:16 not violate the first commandment if you must speak to that god to get to the other god? another topic)
ID accepts old earth, round earth, and therefore cannot be Christian in nature. Yeah, i don't have a vid on it specifically. If he's good at biology though...
Comment by AdamJTP on July 8, 2009 at 5:26pm
...sorry - I left a lot of holes there.

Dating history isn't magical, unknowable science - it's common sense. Start with tree rings and maybe even have a dig.

Kill the "ID dating" issue and the child will (hopefully) start questioning other things.
Comment by Matthew on July 8, 2009 at 6:36pm
Adam: I wholeheartedly agree. But, that's exactly how this whole thing started. We were covering the scientific method and critical thinking. He seemed engaged until I was explaining the difference between "scientific theory" and "theory as a guess." That's when the evolution question came up. I have tried those challenging questions to make him think, but his conditioning has him answering the wrong way. Yes, ID is the only way it could have happened. We know because of the Bible and christian "scientists" say so, etc.

I always tell my students that if they can prove me wrong to let me know because I'm not always right and I love to learn. It happens on rare occasion and I always heap praise and if it is done well, give extra credit. That's why I'm now resorting to using facts. I think he's just smart enough to understand and perhaps think about it over the coming years.

Gaytor: I am familiar with ERV's and that video was awesome. I'm not sure he's quite that good at Bio, but I'll probably put it on the list of things for him to consider. Thanks!
Comment by Jeremy Roney on July 8, 2009 at 8:00pm

Joke or not, this really isn't too far from the truth. You need to show him that his method of thinking is faith based and not science based. In terms of evolution one of the most powerful arguments I've ever heard is this... all it takes for evolution to go out the window (Revolution path) is the discovery of a single fossil that is NOT were it is supposed to be. The rabbit in the cambrian era is the example I've heard quoted. The fact that we have gaps isn't unexpected, but a rabbit in the cambrian would destroy evolution.
Comment by Doug Reardon on July 8, 2009 at 9:35pm
The most intelligent and nice people can harbor incredibly strange delusions. And having worked with the chronically mentally ill for over 35 years, I can vouch for the fact that delusional disorder is unassailable, nothing will deter it's victim from his belief in his delusion.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 9, 2009 at 6:35am
How about finding sites you like, cutting and pasting yourself? Shoot an email to the site letting them know or asking permission to use their content minus the profanity.
Comment by Matthew on July 9, 2009 at 9:29am
My wife reminded me that I already have one tool that I planned on using but apparently forgot about. I taped PBS's "Nova: Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial." I'm going to give it to him today and tell him that I'll listen to his program, if he watches mine.

Thanks for the continued suggestions of resources. Keep them coming!
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 9, 2009 at 12:34pm
If his parents see him watching it and find out it was from you.. could it lead to some problems with your job?


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